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Baby Massage & Playaway Fife

The early experience of infants and children has an impact on their health and well being in later life. Parenting programmes that incorporate nurturing stimulation through play contribute to the physical and neural development of infants and young children by enhancing cognitive, physical and social functioning.

Baby Massage and playaway Groups are universal programmes that allow professionals, practitioners and other agencies to utilise the play@home Books further with families and encourage them to interact with their children in a social environment.

***PAHA Award Winner 2012***

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How It Started

Playaway and Baby Massage groups have been taking place in Fife for a number of years and were predominantly delivered by Health Visitors/Public Health Nurses.

Over the years the number of groups available to families within their local community began to decline. A needs assessment carried out in 2010 highlighted that Health Visitors/Public Health Nurses had full caseloads and did not have the capacity to continue delivering groups and were finding it increasingly difficult to source funding and resources.

As a result of the needs assessment, play@home Fife developed an Action Plan to provide a sustainable approach to support the increase of Baby Massage and Playaway groups in communities across Fife.

Partners Involved

play@home Fife is funded through a joint partnership between NHS Fife and Fife Council Education Service. Baby Massage and playaway groups are supported and developed through play@home core funding.

A play@home Working group was established to develop a more coherent and coordinated approach to Baby Massage and playaway groups across communities in Fife.


The working group developed resources which allowed the ownership of the groups to be moved from Health Visitors and Public Health Nurses to a more sustainable model where community members were delivering the programmes.

The resources include:
• A guidance tool on the logistics of developing, implementing and evaluating a group.
• Training opportunities to support potential leaders to increase their knowledge, skills and confidence in facilitating a group.
• A Resource Bag which allows an individual to facilitate groups without the added pressure of locating funding to buy resources.
• A database which monitors attendance across Fife, and,
• A play@home fund is available so that volunteers can apply for venue costs if no free venues are available within a local community.

These resources have encouraged and enabled community members to start up groups and have led to an increase in Baby Massage and playaway groups in Fife.

Results and Impact

The development of key resources to support practitioners facilitating groups has led to an increase in Baby Massage and playaway groups in communities across Fife.

There are over 50 facilitators on the group database with details of more than 70 groups that have been or are in the process of being delivered. Some groups are delivered as a rolling programme.

Many of these groups have taken place in areas of deprivation, targeting vulnerable families to address health inequalities i.e. teen parents, homeless families, looked after children, families attending Child Development Centres.

On average 10-15 parents/carers attend a group, it is estimated that over 1000 parents/carers have taken part in Baby massage and playaway groups since the development of the Action Plan.

Breakdown of resources issued to date:

• The playbags have been loaned 21 times in total since March 2011. Each bag is loaned for an 8 week period.
• A total of 100 playaway 1 booklets and 82 playaway 2 booklets have been issued.
• To date 17 applicants have been successful in applying for play@home funding for venues.
• A total of 24 practitioners have completed their Baby Massage training.
• A total of 32 practitioners have received playaway Groupwork Training.

The outcomes from the Action Plan have enabled practitioners to develop skills, expertise and capacity in this area and contribute to the continuation of the Fife-wide provision of baby massage and playaway groups and the associated health improvement benefits for parents/carers and their children.

Lessons Learned

The key learning from the needs assessment carried out in 2010 was the importance of using a partnership approach to increase sustainability and to provide a consistent and coordinated approach.

The play@home Working group showcases the importance of partnership working where ideas can be shared and discussed, problems can be solved and new developments can be supported.

What's next for the project?

The next step is to build on the developments of Baby Massage and playaway groups while supporting and sustaining groups that already exist.

Discussions are already underway with the play@home Working Group to look at developing a playaway 3 group and resources. This will provide a clear pathway from Baby Massage – playaway 1 – playaway 2 – playaway 3 - Nursery/playgroup.

Groups will also be piloted within Fife Sport and Leisure Trust and Community Use Schools.

Copies of the playaway Booklets have been sent to every Health Board in Scotland to encourage them to develop groups within the local community.

The Senior Health Promotion Officer – Training is in the process of going through her Baby Massage Instructors so she can then become a trainer for trainers. This will lead to an increase in the number of training courses we can deliver as there is already a waiting list due to the popular demand for Baby Massage training.

The groups continue to link with Book Bug sessions and playtalkread the Scottish Governments Social Marketing Campaign.

To support practitioners delivering groups an early years network of volunteers will be recruited through the Active Fife volunteer programme.

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Lead Contact Name

Laura Petrie


Physical Activity Coordinator, Early Years and Childhood


NHS Fife Health Promotion


Health Promotion Fife Haig House Cameron Hospital Leven Fife KY8 5RA

Phone Number

01592 226486

Email Address


Health Promotion Fife Haig House Cameron Hospital Leven Fife KY8 5RA

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